In the usual self-defeating attitude of anti-free traders who prefer the selective protectionism that benefits a few rather than the openness and freedom that benefit everyone, certain groups and politicians with manufacturing, chemical, and other miscellaneous special interests to answer to are still trying to argue that any possibility of upward pressure on the price of natural gas would have horrendous consequences across the economic spectrum. Allowing for increased exports of the stuff should therefore be avoided at all costs, they insist — while completely ignoring the fact that the entire U.S. economy and would be the beneficiary of said higher prices. The wider competition of a larger global market would be a boon for the U.S. energy sector and all of the jobs and wealth that it creates — and the rest of the world is ready and waiting for the U.S. to get the free-trade party started. Via Reuters:

Countries across the world have been quietly signing deals in recent months to import natural gas from the United States, revealing a growing appetite for the fuel overseas as domestic output soars.

Up to a dozen long-term deals, each worth billions of dollars, have been penned behind closed doors with companies in China, Japan, Taiwan, Spain, France and Chile as global demand spikes, according to company, industry and trade sources. …

The unannounced deals, which amount to about 2 percent of daily U.S. supply, are not the first of their kind, and they depend on U.S. government approval to construct two new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants. …

Companies like Britain’s BP (BP.L) and France’s GDF Suez (GSZ.PA), already committed to taking LNG from the United States, are now finding multiple buyers willing to take tranches of supply. …

The United States is currently producing about 70 billion cub feet of gas every day, and all of these deals put together still only amount to around 1.5 billion cub feet a day in would-be exports. There’s plenty of the stuff to go around, yet we only have four natural gas export facilities in operation with a score of other just waiting for the Obama administration to make up its mind. Get on it.